Donald Magrath (1898-1987)
The only son of Jessie and Edward Magrath to survive into adulthood was Donald Magrath OBE, MB ChB Birmingham 1924, MRCS Eng, LRCP London 1924, DPH University of London 1930, DPM 1933. He was born on Monday, 20 June 1898 and was educated at Bromsgrove School. Records indicate he was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery on 9 February 1918 and served in northern France from 24 April 1918 (details of service not yet known). At that time he was lving at "Chepstow", 57 School Road, Moseley.
After the war he studied Medicine at Birmingham University from where he graduated in 1924. He went to work at Caterham (later St Lawrence's) Hospital, Surrey. It was here that he met his wife, Isabella MacAlister; they married in 1936 [Surrey SE 1936, 2nd qt]. She had obtained an MA from Glasgow University in 1928 and was occupational supervisor at Caterham. They had a mutual interest in trying to realise the full potential of the mentally handicapped; Donald enjoyed the challenge of looking after the medical well-being of patients whose problems with communication often made it difficult for them to describe their symptoms. He also encouraged physical activities, sports including cross-country running and an annual sports day. He was at one time Second Assistant Medical Officer at Shenley Hospital, Hertfordshire, and Certificate Officer for Mental Deficiency for the Lancashire Mental Hospital Board. He subsequently became Deputy-Superintendent of Botleys Park Hospital for the Mentally Handicapped, Chertsey, Surrey, and by 1940 was living at The Croft, Botleys Park.
The London Gazette reported that in the RAF Medical Branch he was
granted a short service commission as a Flying Officer
with effect from, and with seniority of, 24th Sept. 1924. On 24th Sept. 1926, he transferred to the RAF Medical Branch
Class D.2 he was promoted Flight Lt. and on 24 September 1930 was
transferred from Class D (ii) to Class
Before taking up his work with the mentally handicapped, it appears that he had had to resign his commission in the RAF for family reasons, though he remained active in the reserve forces and by 1939 he was dedicating much of his spare time to giving medical examinations to potential RAF pilots. When huts were erected creating a war hospital adjacent to the mental hospital, officials were amazed to discover that the latter was already geared up to receive war-wounded.